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Anita Ko Teaches Us How To Jewel Up An Ear

From piercing to layering your lobes, everything you need to know

by Marion Fasel

534 New Anita Ko Headshot

Designer Anita Ko

On the red carpet interesting ear décor turns up on one or two stars at virtually all the important events of Award Season. So when did the jewelry style with punk origins transform into formalwear?

I trace the trend back to the 2014 SAG Awards when Jennifer Lawrence’s short cropped hair showed off an ear cuff highlighting her lobes. At the Oscars the same year, Emma Watson put on an ear cuff. Both stars were wearing styles by Los Angeles based designer, Anita Ko who was among the very few designers creating diamond and gold ear cuffs four years ago.

Building on the success of her ear cuff and the popularity of multiple piercings, Ko has expanded her earring collection to over 150 designs. If you are someone who loves the look but doesn’t know where to start or wants to add a few more styles to your collection, begin right here. Anita filled me in on everything you need to know about.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the ear cuff.  What inspired you to start making them? 

I had a silver ear cuff with feathers on it from Venice Beach that I got in the eighth grade. I thought let me take the feather away and make it in gold with diamonds, something that would fit in the collection in terms of style and the quality of the manufacturing. I don’t have a piercing on my upper ear and I wanted to create the look that would be comfortable and not fall off.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 28: Sophie Turner attends the Variety's Celebratory Brunch Event For Awards Nominees Benefitting Motion Picture Television Fund held at Cecconi's on January 28, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)

Sophie Turner on January 28, 2017 in Anita Ko ear cuffs and earrings Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

After I made my first sample, I wore it to the Chateau Marmont for dinner with a bunch of friends. Every single person wanted the ear cuff. It really took off at a time when people were beginning to look for something a little daring. Now ear cuffs are equivalent to earrings. They are everywhere and a staple item for my celebrity clients.

Tell me some of the basics for wearing an ear cuff.  For example if someone gets an ear cuff what do you recommend wearing in the main ear hole?

A stud or an orbit earring for the main hole is a good everyday earring. The pear shape diamond stud is a best seller but there are also round diamonds. If you have a second hole, a floating earring is nice between an orbit earring and an ear cuff. A clean look is an earring that goes down and one that goes up and the cuff. 

What do you recommend for someone who wants to build a collection of earrings for multiple piercings?

The key is to ask yourself, ‘What am I going to wear on a daily basis?’ Because this is not the type of jewelry you wear once and put it away for a long time. You want to live it. 

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Diamond and gold ear cuff, floating earring and orbit stud by Anita Ko Photo by Sally Davies

Figure out what kind of gold you want to wear. I have some clients who only want to wear plain yellow or rose gold. It’s still a very rich look and it doesn’t cost a lot of money. Some people want some bling. They want ear cuffs with diamonds. When they have their hair up, they love how it looks in the back. The diamonds on my ear cuffs go all the way around.    

So many of your clients have multiple piercings. Do you have any anecdotal advice on the process of piercing?

It is better to do it with a needle than a gun. A gun, of course, can work perfectly fine, but it seems when someone does have an infection from a piercing it’s from a gun. Also with a gun you have to use the surgical grade earring provided by the location where you get it pierced. If you have it done with a needle you can wear your own earring. Tattoo parlors usually use a needle. A plastic surgeon can also do a piercing with a needle. 

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12: Blake Lively at the "Cafe Society" Press Conference at the Conrad Hotel on July 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)

Blake Lively at the 2016 ‘Cafe Society’ press conference in an Anita Ko ear cuff and orbit earring Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)

Is there anything you should not do with multiple piercings?

There are no rules. The advice I can give is more on a practical level. When you get your hair done, after its washed make sure the ear cuff did not empty out into the towel. A lot of girls forget.  Otherwise anything goes. People love to create their own look even if they have the exact same earrings as their friend. Because every ear is shaped a little differently and looks a little different.  It is about creating a story for yourself.  Their ears are filled with memories and people buy things over time. 

Ear layering has been steadily evolving over the last several years.  What do you think is the next thing?

Hoops are coming back big time. I am making different shapes of them and making some with twists. I am doing different things that they can mix with their studs and their ear cuffs for example, I have diamond numbers that girls can choose for their lucky number or a significant date. There is always something that can be added to an ear story.

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